Experiencing revitalization through clarity, alignment

Iarrived at First Baptist Church in Three Rivers in October 2020, both terrified and excited to step into my first pastorate. I knew right away this was a small-town church in need of revitalization, so I reached out to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Church Health & Leadership department right away.

Shortly after my arrival, the SBTC began a new program called Regenesis that aims to help churches walk through a revitalization process. As I sat in on an informational call, I knew this was the direction our church needed to go. I was hoping and praying there would be others in our church willing to join me as we plunged into the unknown. God sent those people and, with a team assembled, we jumped in and began the process.

FBC Three Rivers had suffered from declining attendance over the past 20 years. The church lost its pastor in 2019, and three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic left the church wondering where it was going and if there was any hope of moving forward. Regenesis helped us address those questions. Here are just a few lessons our church has learned by walking through this process:

Clarify your target.

Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” He was exactly right. Our church was struggling because it had lost sight of the target. If you want to see your church revitalized, you must clarify your target. What is unique about your church? What are the demographics of the area? What are the opportunities? How has God uniquely wired your church to make disciples and advance the kingdom of Christ? Clarifying your target is the first step in church revitalization.

Clarify your process.

What is a disciple? How do you know you are making disciples? What is the path of discipleship for someone who joins your church? These are all questions every church must wrestle with. It was vital that we wrestle with this because we did not have an answer. By defining a disciple and crafting a pathway for discipleship, we have begun to gain clarity on a process for existing members and newcomers alike to enter. Our process is designed to develop the disciple we defined.

Align your leadership.

Pastor, you already know you cannot do this work alone. You were never meant to. You need people around you who will share the vision and be committed to that vison. This is not easy to do, but I’m confident God has placed you in a congregation with people who are willing to help. I asked the Lord for five people. I got all five. We did not all agree when we came to the table the first time, but now there is unity among the team.

The Church Health & Leadership team will tell you Regenesis is not a silver bullet. FBC Three Rivers has not arrived. We are still working, refining, and clarifying. I can tell you it gave us the platform to have discussions that would have taken years to do otherwise. The sense of urgency compelled us to act and we followed God’s lead. Now we’re watching Him take us in amazing places.

Jesse Hammonds
First Baptist Church in Three Rivers
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